Recently, we reported about how playing chess makes us people with ‘better’ characters. One arguments in the report focused on the fact that chess players have advanced imagination. Perfect examples for this statement are the meaningful artists of the previous centuries. Today, we will introduce you to some of these artists who committed their lives not only to art but also found time and pleasure in regular gatherings around the chess board.
Frederic Chopin (1810 – 1849)
Until today, Frederic Chopin is considered one of the most influential and popular pianists and composers of piano music. In his spare time he found enjoyment in playing billiard and chess, for which he even produced his own chess pieces.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
The composer paved the way for Romanticism and is ubiquitous even today, as his Ninth Symphony (Joy, fair spark of the Gods) became the European anthem. One of his close friends was the inventor Johann Nepomuk Mälzel who not only invented mechanical music instruments and the Metronome but also the very first chess robot (the so-called ‘Chess Turk’) that turned out to be a fake eventually.
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
The English dramatist, lyricist, and actor managed to make his comedies and tragedies the most performed and filmed stage plays of the world’s literature (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet). Many indicators lead to the conclusion that Shakespeare had a passion for chess, though this was never proven and therefore remains one of the many myths evolving around this icon.
Berthold Brecht (1898 – 1956)
With his plays being performed on stage all around the world (Life of Galileo Galilei, Mother Courage) Brecht became one of the most meaningful dramatists of the 20th century. All his life he enjoyed playing chess; from 1911 until 1913 he even gathered with school friends at his parents’ house every Wednesday afternoon to play chess.
Johann Friedrich Schiller (1759 – 1805)
The German poet, philosopher, and historian also liked playing chess. He gained popularity with his works Wilhelm Tell, Intrigue and Love, and Maria Stuart.
Ian Fleming (1908 – 1964)
The English author gained international recognition and appreciation through his novel and movie character James Bond. Fleming created thrilling scenes for his Agent 007 and was never able to resist a stimulating duel of checkmate.
Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870)
This author is also of English origin and published works like Oliver Twist and A Christmas Tale. In his spare time, Dickens found pleasure in playing chess.
Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)
This Irish writer (The Canterville Ghost) and eloquent philosopher once stated “Talent borrows, genius steals”. Might this also have been his motto whilst playing chess?!
Madonna (born 1958)
The American singer (Like A Virgin, Vogue, Frozen, Music) is multi-talented. Being a song writer, actress, author, stage director, and designer she is as successful as being a singer. We wonder whether or not she plans her chess moves just as cleverly as her steps on the career ladder.
Bob Dylan (born 1941)
The rock musician is not only a talented singer, he also plays the guitar, the harmonica, organ, and piano. How the influential musician (Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door) managed to find time for regular duels of checkmate remains a mystery to us..
John Lennon (1940 – 1980)
The British musician, composer, author, and peace activist is popular all over the globe for being the co-founder, singer, and guitarist of the British bank The Beatles. He was also a huge chess fan, just like his second wife Yoko Ono, who, by the way, created the famous White Chess Set.
Ringo Starr (born 1940)
The British musician, composer, and actor was band colleague of John Lennon and drummer of the band The Beatles. Both were known to fight thrilling chess matches.
Frank Sinatra (1915 – 1998)
The singer and entertainer (Strangers in the Night, Moon River, My Way) was also fond of chess. In 1979 he even placed a 100,000 USD award on a single duel between World Champion Karpov and former Junior Champion Walter Browne.
Bill Gates (born 1955)
The company owner and programmer has been the richest man in the world with an estimated assets of 72.7 billion US Dollars. Although being known for his outstanding intelligence, Magnus Carlsen checkmated the founder of Microsoft in nine moves in January 2014.
Harry Houdini (1874 – 1926)
The American illusionist has his roots in the Austrian-Hungarian region and impresses the world’s public with his magical escape tricks until today. We don’t know whether this skill might have helped him develop creative solutions at the chessboard.
Joseph Pulitzer (1847 – 1911)
This journalist, editor, and publisher is founder of a major literature award which he also lent his name to – the Pulitzer Prize. In his leisure time he enjoyed playing chess and reading political memoirs.
Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980)
Sir Alfred Hitchcock was a British film director and producer (Psycho, The Birds). His hobbies: Polo and chess!
Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
The Italian multi-talented painter (Mona Lisa), sculptor, architect, mechanic, engineer, and nature philosopher wrote a book about checkmate in 1500 with the help of Pacioli that is still quoted in specialists’ literature – Ludo Scacchorum.
written by Sarah, translated by Birthe